What is Assertiveness?

Do you find that you are always the one to ‘keep the peace’ even when you know that it will have an negative impact on your own life? People often incorrectly assume that you are either born with an assertive nature or you were not, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone can learn to be more assertive.

Assertiveness is a type of communication style that enables you to express your feelings, beliefs and thoughts in an open and respectful way. Sometimes people confuse assertiveness with aggression, in that they believe they need to hold a particular point in a disagreement and stand their ground without compromise.

However, assertive communication is about balancing your wants and needs whilst being receptive to another person’s needs. This means sometimes you will get what you want, other times the other person may get what they want, or you will both compromise. Assertive communication is essential to reducing conflict, strengthening your personal and work relationships, and building self-confidence.

How would you rate your assertiveness skills?

Understanding how to be assertive gives you more freedom to choose when to be assertive. For example, at certain times and in certain situations, it may not be helpful to use this skill, such as if you’re in a bar and someone is acting aggressively towards you. In this situation, the other person is not being rational so keeping yourself safe becomes more important than being assertive. Learning to be assertive is about providing yourself with a choice.

Here are some advantages of assertive communication:

  • Both parties are more likely to feel heard and respected;
  • Better job satisfaction;
  • Build confidence and self-esteem;
  • Improve communication.

Being more assertive will help you to express your feelings and needs more easily. Like anything, assertiveness is a skill that requires some practice. If you’d like to learn more about how, talk to one of our Clinical Psychologists.

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